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Tips for Motivating Gifted Underachievers

Hemangi Harankhedkar
Motivation is a psychological factor that helps a person realize his/her goals. Motivating a gifted child is not easy, and needs patience. I am here with some tips to help you motivate your gifted but underachieving child.
The term underachievement is used more in context with students. Underachieving students are inordinately talented and have a high IQ, but in academics, the child performs poorly or way below his/her ability. Procrastination, lack of confidence, and more focus towards other activities are the various reasons that make a child less inclined to studying.
Underachievement is often seen in classrooms; students have a good IQ score, which proves they can do well. But the case is different altogether, and the child shows a poor academic record. Motivation from parents and teachers can help a child deal with underachievement; it tries to fill the gap between performance and success.

How to Motivate a Gifted Underachiever

Counter the De-motivating Factors

Stress and life move hand in hand, and our way of dealing with stress, shapes our mind and life. Talk to your child about how things are going on in school and if there are any problems he/she is facing. Many things discourage and distract us, and then we lose our focus.
Your child may not be performing up to the mark because some things are probably bothering him/her, it can be a bullying classmate, or peer pressure. These things distract students from studies, and then they find studying difficult.
Make sure your child is in good company while at school. If the person you want to motivate is in bad company, with negativity all around him/her, guide the person out of it. You need to condition the person thoroughly so that you can wipe out the negative forces from his/her life.

Identify the Triggers

For majority of those employed, money is the biggest motivator. The thought of earning money itself motivates us. Thus money is one of the triggers for the employed class. Now, how do we motivate a student? In some cases, the lectures become so monotonous, that the student doesn't pay attention to what is taught in the classroom.
Teachers can put some effort in making the class more interactive through various means like use of charts, teaching over the Internet, etc. Sometimes kids who are gifted, are more inclined towards sports or extra-curricular activities.
Parents should not pressurize their children into studies, rather should try to find out what interests them or what is distracting them. Who knows, there may be a hidden singer or actor in him? So expose him/her to various activities and see where his interests lie. This will help your child identify with his/her true passion.

Build Confidence

Sometimes, lack of confidence stops people from doing things that they excel in. This especially applies to people interested in dance and dramatics, or something related to stage performances. For example, fear of performing on stage in front of a big audience, can make a student wary of participating in annual functions of the school.
Similarly, lack of confidence prevents a student from actively participating in school, he/she fails to clear doubts and fears to answer questions, though he/she knows the answers.
Tell the student or the person that he/she has very good skills, but should not shy away from showcasing them. Confidence comes with time, or there are confidence building activities you can enroll your child/student into.

Set an Example

It is easy to spot a child who is disinterested in the class. An underachiever will only have a physical presence in the classroom, he/she will not participate in questioning or answering. Teachers can deal with a dull atmosphere in the classroom in many ways.
Set an example of yourself, by showing enthusiasm in whatever you do. Parents should and spend their hours fruitfully, and encourage their kids to be the best in everything. This is because, children look up to elders around them, and unknowingly imbibe their habits.
So teachers and parents should set a good example for their children and teach them to aim high. If the parents are hardworking, the kids would also will be motivated to work hard like their parents. This is also applicable to teachers, they can also tell the students stories about their role models.
Children are very inclined to become like their role models, and this is a big factor to motivate them. Below, I have mentioned a few tips to help you motivate your under-performing child.
  • Never ever reprimand your child publicly, this will worsen the situation and not help him/her in any way. As a parent you should be your child's best friend and guide.
  • A gifted child is also prone to depression, as no matter how hard he/she tries, success always seems elusive. Don't let your child give up, and teach him/her to fight against all odds.
  • Praise and reward your child for any small achievement, since this builds confidence, and motivates him/her to do even better. You can take the help of a counselor as an end measure to counter underachievement in your child.
  • You should inculcate good time management skills in your child, as through this he/she will learn to give proper attention to each activity.
Underachievement in students, especially, is bothersome for parents and teachers.
Some experts question the term underachievement, as a student who performs below par in school is found to succeed in other activities. However, doing less than what you can actually do is the worst thing.
Your kid should be able to keep up an effective balance between academics and his/her other interests. Pushing a child to achieve more could look like a Herculean task to you, but is not impossible.